By Kodey Toney
Sultans of Swing
Since IEP season is in full swing, and I've been working with several parents lately on their children's Individualized Education Program (IEP), I thought I would go over some things that might help you get prepared for your next meeting with the school.
Here is a short list if things I would recommend to be prepared to meet with your team.
You want to make sure that you have all the information from the school that you need to help provide your child with the best education possible. You can, and should, request your child's complete education file contained in school records. This can include grades or report cards, teacher notes, classroom papers, discipline reports, progress reports, correspondence, and any tests or evaluations. These can be vital in determining what services and modifications may be necessary in the IEP. This can also help you determine if there are any new evaluations needed.
A care notebook is a great way to keep this information in order. The Oklahoma Family Network provides information and training in putting one together. If anyone is interested in more information about the notebook you can contact me firstname.lastname@example.org.
This means that you should especially request any evaluations that will be presented at the meeting.
I would make sure that you make a request for this information early, a week or more out, and do it in writing. You should always do any correspondence with the school in writing. Pete Wright of Wrightslaw always says, "If it's not in writing it wasn't said."
If you talk to someone, and they say they are going to do something, but it's not in writing, it's a good idea to send an email soon after explaining what was said. For instance, if someone says that they will do an evaluation on your child for speech, I would email as soon as possible and say, "It's my understanding, per our conversation today, that you are going to do a speech evaluation this week. Am I correct in my understanding?" This does two things. It starts a paper trail, and it prompts the other person to answer your question.
One thing you should remember is, if you are not satisfied with the school's evaluation you can request an outside or independent evaluation.
I've said this several times, but it's worth repeating, it's not good to have an us vs. them mentality. Make sure that you are trying to keep open communication with the teacher and others at the school. You know your child well, and they know what's happening in the classroom. This is a "team", so team up and help your child.
You may even want to request to observe the teacher and student in the classroom, but I will throw out a little caution on this one. First of all, your child will probably act a little different if they know you're in the room. The teacher probably will not act the same either, but they may not welcome you with open arms either.
Make sure that if you currently have an IEP in place that you review it. If it's been a while since the last one then there are things to look at and make sure that the goals are still appropriate, and you are still heading in the right direction.
This is a good start, and I will try to follow up next week with more information.
As always, if you have any questions, or you need someone to help advocate for your child in a meeting contact me at the email above.